National Geographic: Language


Headlines for shorter, front of book pieces are short, punchy, and commonly use alliteration. The headlines are also straightforward — the reader can get a general idea of what the story is about.

Nat Geo FOB   Nat Geo FOB Nat Geo FOB

Headlines for longer, feature stories are still short, but more clever and creative. The headlines are relevant to the story, but the reader doesn’t automatically know what the story is about unless they continue reading.

Nat Geo Feature   Nat Geo Feature

Pull Quotes:

National Geographic uses pull quotes to call attention to significant quotes in a feature story. They are larger, in all caps, and surrounded by space to place further emphasis on them. The quote attribution is underneath in a smaller, italicized font.

Nat Geo pullquote


Captions short, generally one to two sentences. When they appear with photos that don’t accompany a story, the caption explains what the photo is of, and where it was taken. The photographer is listed underneath in smaller caps. Some full page photo spreads also offer the option to order prints of National Geographic photography online.

Nat Geo captions   Nat Geo captions

Bylines and credit:

In full length feature stories, the credit is always given before at the top of story. The photographer is credited once at the beginning for all the accompanying photographs, and not in each individual photograph. When photographs appear in isolation, the photographer is always credited below or on the photo.

Nat Geo byline   Nat Geo byline   Nat Geo byline

Promos and refers.


Front of the book pieces have a more clever, conversational tone. Feature stories are written as long form narratives and take on a more serious tone fitting of the subject matter. For example, the front of the book blurb about Social Sex Under the Sea is informative, but humorous. “Having frequent, promiscuous, and arguably deviant sex has made the bonobo an infamous ape. But the dolphin, says University of Massachusetts marine biologist Richard Connor, “can out-bonobo the bonobo.”

Nat Geo FOB

Section names: 

Front of the book sections are clearly labeled, and feature a small yellow box in the top left corner to alert the reader to the section’s content. Some of these even have a tagline to offer further explanation:

“Planet Earth Parks: National Geographic visits some of the lesser known sites in the National Park System”

“Field Notes: National Geographic explorers, photographers, and writers report from around the world”

Nat Geo Section names Nat Geo Section names Nat Geo Section names Nat Geo Section names

The feature well is not explicitly labeled,  but the reader knows it begins by the full page photo spread and title.

Nat Geo Feature